Groundhog Day is a perfect movie to watch during a rainy evening, while sitting on a cozy couch, covered with a warm blanket, and with a bag of popcorn in hand. It’s a well-structured comedy offering many laughs, with a decent plot, which doesn’t necessarily involve a lot of thinking.
Phil (Bill Murray), a tired and self-centered weatherman, goes on a trip to Punxsutawney (fancy name I must say), Pennsylvania, in order to cover a story of the infamous Groundhog Day celebrations that take place there every year. Along with him come an irritated cameraman Larry (Chris Elliot) and a pretty newbie producer Rita (Andie MacDowell). It seems like it will be just another one-day excursion, just to inform people about another useless festivities that involve a groundhog predicting the coming of spring. However, due to horrible weather conditions the trio has to settle down in the city for another night. And then the strangest thing happens. Phil wakes up to the same radio announcements; sees exactly the same view outside his window; gets the same greetings from a hotel lady. And soon discovers that Groundhog Day is going to take place all over again, and again, and again…
So why not take advantage of this bizarre situation? At first, he attempts to live his life to the fullest, letting go of all the greed, selfish desires, and sexual temptations. By spending this one particular day anew he gets to know every single person in this small town, and is able to profit from all the information acquired. He also tries to get closer to Rita but fails miserably. That’s phase one.
In phase two, Phil realizes (after falling off a cliff in a car) that he became immortal somehow and won’t die. So he tries to commit suicide in every possible way and still wakes up at 6 a.m. in the same bed listening to a song by Sonny & Cher. He starts to feel miserable and tired of all the mess that he’s in.
And then comes phase three. He once again wants to seduce Rita. He gets to know her better day after day, in order to finally be able to sleep with her. However, as convincing as he may be, she still rejects him after all. The ultimate way to make her fall in love with him is through good deeds. After all that time he understands that by being altruistic and helpful towards other people goes a road to a woman’s heart.
The main quality of the movie is contained in its ability to show mostly the same sequences all over again (well, that’s what it’s all about), but do it in such a manner that isn’t boring or dull. Even though it’s the same day, the events, actions, and people that the viewer sees are different or presented in an alternative manner.
This is probably one of Bill Murray’s funniest roles. I always admired his passion for acting, and in Groundhog Day he is convincing enough to say that he might as well play in joyful comedies, as in respectable dramas. His performance makes the movie much more pleasurable, as we are able to look at the transformation of his character and the gradual changes that he goes through from point A (destroy, burn, steal) to point B (love, care, understand).
All in all, I won’t say that Groundhog Day is my favorite comedy, but it definitely showed me that even some light-hearted comedies are able to pass a meaningful message to the world, and at the same time, make you laugh at the ridiculousness of their storyline.